'Gusti' wins on Thai-break

| 0 | Chess Event Coverage
Jan 'Gusti' Gustafsson won the 2011 Thai Open in Pattaya, Thailand after finishing in a three-way tie for first place. The German Grandmaster finished equal on points with Paco Vallejo and Nigel Short but was awarded the 11th Thai Open title on tie-break.

General info

The 11th Thai Open was held April 11th-17th, 2011 at the Dusit Thani Resort in Pattaya City, Thailand. This year a record entry of more than 200 players participated. The field was headed by Francisco Vallejo Pons (Spain), Nigel Short (England) and Jan Gustafsson (Germany). The time control was 90 minutes for the whole game, with 30 seconds increment from move 1.

Rounds 6-9

When we published our first report, Paco Vallejo and Nigel Short had just been caught by Indian GM Abhijit Kunte and Zaw Win Lay of Myanmar. A group of ten, including three GMs, were sitting just half a point further back.

In the 6th round Nigel Short became the clear leader after a hard-fought victory over Zaw Win Lay. Second-seeded Short moved clear of the field after his main rival, Vallejo, was held to a draw by Kunte, the highest ranked of the 21-strong Indian contingent in Pattaya. Vallejo now sat in a pack of five players half a point behind Short.

Zaw gained plenty of time in the opening by using the Short system against its inventor, but once both players became short of time at around move 30, the Englishman took control, winning a piece and the game in 47 moves.

Local fans were deflated as their two best performers in the Open, Jiripak Pitirojirathon and 15-year-old Warot Kananub both suffered defeats, when a victory would have placed them only a point behind Short.

In round 7, Gustafsson threw the tournament wide open by defeating tournament leader Short. With two rounds to play, "Gusti", seeded third, now shared the lead with top seed Vallejo and the two would meet in a much-awaited penultimate round encounter on Saturday.

Gustafsson was pleased with his win over the former world title challenger but was unsure of the turning point in the game; "I think he didn't have time for his [slow plan from moves 17-20]. His piece sacrifice at the end [isn't great] but I already have strong threats."

Vallejo joined Gustafsson at the top of the standings with a tough win over Chinese International Master Yang Kaiqi, with Short and 4 other players half a point off the pace.

However 2010 Thai Open Champion Sune Berg Hansen is not among them and has no chance of retining his titled after the Danish Grandmaster was forced to lower his colours to unfancied Dutchman Pieter Hopman.

Thailand's top player Wisuwat Teerapabpaisit moved into prize money contention with an upset win over Russian International Master Alexey Romanov. Teerapabpaisit is now only a point behind the two leaders. 15-year-old Warot Kananub also continued to impress and retains chances for his first International Master result.

Going into the last round, the three top seeds were tied for the lead with just one round to play, setting the stage for an exciting finish in the strongest tournament ever held in Thailand. After Vallejo was held to a draw by Gustafsson, Short took the opportunity to regain a share of the lead with a comfortable victory over Indian Grandmaster Jha Sriram.


Gustafsson bravely sacrificed two pawns against the top seed on Saturday, but Vallejo could find nothing better than returning the material with a drawn endgame. "You should have watched my DVD - that's where I proposed [the new 14th move that I played]," Gustafsson said to his opponent after the game."Yes, I will download it," Vallejo replied.

Eventually it was Jan Gustafsson who won the 2011 Thai Chess Open in Pattaya, after finishing in a three-way tie for first place and winning the title on a tie-break. Gustafsson finished equal on points with Vallejo and Short but was awarded the 11th Thai Open title because he had played tougher opposition. Short, who lost to Gustafsson in the critical game of the tournament, was awarded the runners-up cup. The three players shared 220,000 Baht (about 5,000 Euro or US $7,300) in prize money.

Three winners at Thai Open

In a dramatic final day of play, Short, 45, seemed to have the most difficult task but he smoothly outplayed Indian Grandmaster Abhijit Kunte. Both Gustafsson, 31, and Vallejo, 28, were required to play tricky endgames against Norwegian youngster Kjetil Stokke and Bangladeshi veteran Niaz Murshed but both outplayed their opponents to reach the tie for first.

Sunday's final round of Thailand's largest and strongest open tournament was a grim one for local players with the leading Thai performer Wisawat Teerapabpaisit missing a chance to reach sixth place after losing to Indian Grandmaster Jha Sriram.

Final standings

=1 Gustafsson, Short, Vallejo 7.5 points =4 Voigt, Yang 7 =6 Hansen, Palit, Sriram, Saptarshi, Illingworth 6.5

At the moment of writing a full final standings table is not available - hopefully we can add it soon.

Gusti wins Thai Open

Selection of games rounds 6-9

Game viewer by ChessTempo

Thanks to the Thai Open Chess Press Office, who sent excellent daily press releases on which this report is largely based.


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